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Use your know-how — host own seminar

Your experience and skills may be worth $$ to others

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We've all watched the traveling experts get up there on the stage and present material you know you already know. The difference? They are making big bucks and you are paying them.

Something's wrong here. You have every bit as much knowledge and ability as these people, but the challenges of putting on a money-making seminar seem daunting.

You have knowledge. You have an idea, a how-to plan. You have an I've-done-it story. And the benefits of using this knowledge to put on a money-making seminar are enormous. Besides the money you can make through the actual presentation, there's the opportunity to get your name before the public, introduce new products or services and become known as someone who has answers.

Let's outline some steps you need to take to make all this come true:

Topic selection:

Ask yourself this basic question, "If I give a seminar, will anybody pay to hear it?" To answer this, write the name of your proposed seminar at the top of a page. Down the left side, write a brief description of each main point you intend to cover in your talk. Now down the right side, write the benefit your listener would obtain if he or she knew that information. Then look at each point and again ask, "Would my listener pay to get this information?" Repeat this, changing and adding as necessary until you have all "yes" answers. When you have that, you have your topic.

Building content:

Now use your main-point list as a guide to building content. An excellent method is to put your material in the context of a story outline. A seminar, like a story, needs a beginning, a body and an end. When you have a good outline of your story, do the, "Would my listener pay?" idea to again test your material. As a final check, take the outline to a few of your current best customers for input. They may be able to provide input you didn't think of the first time.

Selecting a title:

The title sets the anticipation level of your seminar, and its selection is the most important decision you can make. People often make snap decisions to attend a seminar based on the title, and then look at the content list to justify their decision. Your title must use action verbs, and should contain action words and phrases such as: how-to, free, you, easy, money and all those other words that get attention. Look at existing seminar offerings from the experts for inspiration. After all, if it works for them, it will work for you.

Not ready?

You've done the work, and you have a seminar; but you still have doubts about everything. What now? I suggest you give it away. You ask, "Why should I give-away my knowledge? I want to sell it!" Well, you probably can't do that first out of the box. You aren't known, you haven't been tested and, frankly, you don't really know whether your subject, title, delivery and content are good enough. My suggestion is to try out a mini-version on several smaller groups. Civic groups are always looking for luncheon speakers, and since they don't pay you (except for maybe a lunch), they're not quite as critical of your presentation as a paying audience.

Besides, this is an excellent way to get your name in front of lots of people. Hone your material and your delivery here, among relatively friendly people. Hand out a critique sheet at the end and take the comments seriously.

Promoting yourself:

The absolute best way to get your seminar heard by thousands is to team with some organization that knows how to advertise, promote, locate, price and time seminars. Admit your lack of knowledge and ask for help. An organization that has produced seminars has knowledge of the best time and best day to reach their membership, they have a pretty good idea as to how much their audience is willing to pay to receive your information, they know how much it will cost for a seminar room, coffee, rolls or lunch or whatever and, finally, they know how and how much it will cost to advertise your seminar.

Look for these firms in the classified section of your newspaper, on the Internet and in the business pages of a phone book under such listings as seminar promoters, speaker bureaus and the like.

You're not going to make much money the first time you present your seminar. If you team with an organization, they're going to deduct expenses and then share the net with you in some way. What you are going to get is a reputation. Try to make that reputation one of presenting good material that is usable at a reasonable price. Do it right and you'll be welcomed back time and time again, and that means money.